Review: Little Shop of Horrors, Lyceum

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If you’ve never seen this musical think Day of the Triffids meets the music of Phil Spector. And just in case you don’t get it, the female chorus has three singers called Crystal, Chiffon and Ronnette.

This surreal show is about a flesh-eating plant, bearing an odd resemblance to a big green shark, which lives in a Skid Row flower shop and progressively eats the principals in the cast before taking over the world.

It’s loud, fast and furious with the story told through one song after another. They are bright, catchy numbers but there is nothing that could exist outside the show: you won’t go away humming the big number.

That’s not really a problem because all the cast sing well. Stephanie Clift, as flower shop girl Audrey, has a winsome girlish charm with guts when she needs it while Sam Lupton, as her admirer Seymour, is a very fine baritone. But what’s this? Is a plane or a train? No, it’s X Factor star Rhydian as Orin, the masochistic biker dentist, with the most powerful lungs in showbiz.

He dies spectacularly well – twice – but here’s a tip: don’t have a visit to the dentist the day after seeing this.

The chorus (Sasha Latoya, Vanessa Fisher and Cassie Clare) work non-stop to provide the musical backdrop while Paul Kissaun sports a fine set of whiskers (his own) as flower shop boss Mushnik.

It’s a monster of a musical but I’d have liked a monster of a hit tune in there as well. On until Saturday.

* Martin Dawes

Halle/Sheffield Philharmonic Chorus, Sheffield City Hall

The season’s first joint concert by the Halle and the Phil featured relative rarities with an Anglo-American flavour.

Elgar’s The Spirit of England, a setting of Laurence Binyon’s poetry (including the famous Remembrance verse ‘They shall not grow old…’) was sensitively delivered by chorus and soprano soloist Elizabeth Atherton in perfect balance with the often brassy sound of the orchestra under James Burton.

The other choral contribution was Vaughan Williams’ setting of the American poet Walt Whitman’s Toward the Unknown Region. Again, voices and musicians achieved a fine blend of the ethereal and emotional, though the poet’s words can be hard going, even on the printed page, and something of a challenge to the uninitiated in a concert hall.

No such problem with Arnold Bax’s Tintagel, a soundscape of the sea beating on the Cornish coast, and though not quite up there with the sea pictures painted by Mendelsohn and Britten, effective and pleasant enough.

But the hidden gem was American composer Samuel Barber’s Knoxville: Summer of 1915, which vividly and imaginatively captures the street sounds and breathless hush and the changing moods of a growing child, delightfully recreated by a scaled down orchestra and Elizabeth Atherton at her glorious best.

* Philip Andrews